2011 Infiniti G37 Sport Coupe Review
Relevant Link: 2011 Infiniti G37 Specs, Comparisons, Prices and Reviews
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS
2011 Infiniti G Coupe 37 Sport 6MT
Nothing evokes images of high-dollar exotica, mostly of Italian origin and costing more than your house, quite like "2+2 sports-luxury coupe". And most of those are "+2" only if the two in question are preschool children… But there are exceptions, and one of the most notable is the Infiniti G37 Coupe.
The G coupe debuted as the G35, with a namesake 3.5-liter, 280-horsepower V6 in 2003. Based on the same "FM" platform architecture as the Infiniti G35 Sedan and Nissan 350Z and Skyline, but sharing little if any sheetmetal with its relatives, the G35 Coupe helped emphasize Infiniti's then-newfound sports-luxury direction. And anyone wondering why there had been no 2+2 variant of the 350Z had their answer.
The Z 2+2s, built from the early `80s through the Z's apparent demise at the end of the 1996 model year, were stretched variations of the then-current 280 or 300ZX; the Infiniti G coupe was a clean-sheet design, meant from the start to be a 2+2. Instead of the somewhat ungainly stretched two-seater proportions of the Z 2+2s, the G coupe was clad in a body that would have done any Italian styling house proud. The price was reasonable, and rear-seat accommodations, if not as spacious as the sedan's, were reasonable for small adults.
The second-generation G coupe arrived for model year 2008 as the G37, with significant chassis upgrades wrapped in more voluptuous styling. The namesake engine was punched out to 3.7 liters and, with other internal improvements, made more power -- now 330 horsepower -- with improved fuel economy.
Change has been constant since then, with 2009 seeing the original five-speed automatic replaced by a seven-speed unit and the addition of the all-wheel drive G37x model. Interior enhancements were last year's activity. Differences for 2011 are more readily apparent, highlighted by a restyled front fascia and new colors and wheel designs. The AWD G37x is now available with the sport suspension that is standard in the Sport model.
And that Sport model continues to buck the trend to automatic or automated manual transmissions, as it is offered only with a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission, sport-tuned suspension and steering, and viscous limited-slip differential as standard equipment.
I've just finished a week with a 2011 G37 Coupe in Sport trim, and it was a most pleasant week. Since I last drove one, back in 2008, the formerly-optional Navigation and Premium option packages have become standard equipment. Which is reflected in the price, but that's still less than the base model plus options -- which are not available with the base model, which is not available with the stick. Such is life, but so equipped the G37 Coupe is every bit a contemporary high-tech sports-luxury coupe that allows, demands, even, more driver interaction than is the norm today. It's for drivers, not mere operators, and its lovely exhaust note, firm but supple suspension tuning, great brakes, and surefooted handling abilities further emphasize that. I have no doubt that the automatic versions are fine in their own right, and will fit the desires and needs of more people. But the Sport combines the best of the old, traditionalist sports car experience with all of the new conveniences, and Infiniti should be commended for that.
APPEARANCE: When the second-generation G Coupe debuted, it featured a lower, wider stance and more curvaceous lines than the original. Although the current car is more complexly styled, it shows continuity with the first generation through the fastback roofline and L-shaped headlights and taillights. It looks like a proper upscale sports coupe, not a two-door sedan variation. For 2011, all models of the G37 Coupe get a sportier-looking front bumper fascia with a prominent "splitter" lower air dam. The foglamps have been moved from the headlight clusters to the lower grille area. The look is appropriately subtle but does emphasize the G37's performance potential.
COMFORT: The G37 Sport's office is the perfect place from which to conduct the business of long-distance driving. Infiniti got it right the first time -- there have been no major changes to the Coupe's interior since its debut, merely differences to trim materials and standard equipment levels. Interior styling is harmonious with the exterior, and best described as "contemporary Japanese entry-luxury". Although the car is moderately low, access is easy. The Sport has unique power-adjustable and heated front seats, with manual thigh extensions and power side bolsters -- all the better for comfort in spirited driving. Bright, easily-read electroluminescent instruments are featured in all models, as is the signature Infiniti analog clock in the center stack. The Sport's leather-wrapped steering wheel is power-adjustable for both tilt and reach, for optimum driving position for comfort and safety. As in other FM cars, the main instrument cluster tilts with the steering column. Standard Sport fare now includes the Bose® Studio On Wheels® premium audio system with AM/FM/and XM satellite radio, a single-disk CD player, and a USB port and power point in the console box and Infiniti's disk-based navigation system. Both work well, and simply. Rear passenger space is good for a sports coupe, as is access, but that still means 5-5 or so max. Trunk space is adequate for a long weekend for two, and the entire rear seatback can be folded forward for large cargo, or the rear seat used as a cargo shelf.
SAFETY: Zone Body construction means that G37 passengers are surrounded by a strong safety cage with front and rear crush zones, side-impact reinforcement, and dual front, front-seat side, and full-length side curtain airbags. Brakes are four-wheel vented disc in all models, larger and stronger in the Sport, with four-channel antilock, brake assist, electronic brake distribution, and the Vehicle Dynamics Control stability enhancement system with traction control.
RIDE AND HANDLING: The increased rigidity of the second-generation G37 Coupe's FM unibody structure, and its wider track and lower stance, have been taken advantage of in the Sport with an appropriately firm tuning to its fully-independent double-wishbone / multilink suspension. "Firm" here is by no means "harsh", it's supple enough that driving the G37 Sport quickly, even on poorly-paved secondary roads, is pleasure, not punishment. The standard Sport Package tuning means high-performance tires on 19-inch alloy rims, larger brake discs, all vented, with four-piston front and twin-piston rear calipers, and a viscous limited-slip differential along with firmer spring and damper tuning.
PERFORMANCE: The latest development of Nissan's VQ series of aluminum alloy DOHC multivalve V6 engines makes 330 horsepower (at 7000 rpm) and 270 lb-ft of torque (at 5200 rpm) from its 3.7 liters. The "Variable Valve Event and Lift" (VVEL) system controls both intake cam phasing and intake valve lift for a broader spread of torque and lower fuel consumption and emissions. Redline is 7500 rpm, and while the engine is happy up there, there is enough low- and mid-range torque that it's never really necessary -- but the lovely six-cylinder music from the twin exhausts and the smooth shift linkage and positive clutch feel will make those drivers who can still shift for themselves happy indeed. Fuel economy, at and EPA 17/25 and 20 mpg overall during my week, is reasonable for the size and power.
CONCLUSIONS: Infiniti's G37 Coupe Sport 6MT is not for the shiftless, and can give great pleasure to those who can shift for themselves.
2011 Infiniti G37 Sport Coupe 6MT
Base Price $ 42,400 Price As Tested $ 43,275 Engine Type DOHC aluminum alloy V6 with variable intake cam phasing and valve lift Engine Size 3.7 liters / 225 cu. in. Horsepower 330 @ 7000 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 270 @ 5200 rpm Transmission 6-speed manual Wheelbase / Length 112.2 in. / 183.7 in. Curb Weight 3,710 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 11.2 Fuel Capacity 20.0 gal. Fuel Requirement 91 octane premium unleaded gasoline Tires Bridgestone Potenza RE050A F: 225/45R19 92 W R: 245/40R19 94W Brakes, front/rear vented disc all around, ABS, EBD, BA, VDC standard Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone / independent multilink Drivetrain front engine, rear-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 17 / 25 / 20 0 to 60 mph 5.4 sec OPTIONS AND CHARGES Destination charges $ 875
Relevant Link: 2011 Infiniti G37 Specs, Comparisons, Prices and Reviews